Are you just starting out on your herbalist journey, and you’re not sure where to buy herbs (not to mention which ones to buy—which I’ll be talking about in another upcoming blog post)? I, too, started out a bit overwhelmed and unsure of what would be the best way to come by herbs for teas and other recipes. So, today I am going to save you a bit of the leg work and share what I’ve learned with you. There is no one right or wrong way to buy herbs, but being as I formed as you can be will help you weigh all the factors when you’re deciding what’s best for your own practice.
Let’s begin with your local options. It is always good to focus heavily on local herbs for your practice, both to work with plants sharing your own environment and also to support local businesses. (It’s also better for the environment to buy them locally!) This isn’t always easy, however. Some of you may be lucky enough to live in a town or city with local herbalists selling high quality herbs, but others like me? Not so much. There are a few other options, however.
First off, check your local supermarket! Not everything you’re looking for will be there, but some things will. You best believe I get cinnamon sticks, cloves, and cardamom pods at the grocery store. Don’t forget to check out the produce and garden sections for fresh options, too.
Is there a weekend farmers market local to you? That’s another worthwhile place to check for herbs, or even plants you can take home and grow yourself. And speaking of growing them yourself, if that’s an option for you, you might consider it. Just keep in mind it takes a lot of work for a small yield.
Foraging can be another option in some locations, but it’s best to take precautions and care. Make sure you’re educated on local plant safety, and think about finding an experienced foraging mentor to teach you what they know. Also, be sure to know how to forage carefully for the sake and longevity of the plants, and take only what you need.
If you’re like me, navigating online shopping options tends to be the most realistic choice for most dried herb purchases. However, it can be tricky to know where to start and who to trust.
For starters, I am going to establish here and now that while I am not a fan of the dark side of Amazon, I am also not a snob about Amazon shopping. Some people don’t have the privilege of choosing other places to make purchases. I am sometimes one of those people. I will say, though, if you shop for herbs on Amazon, you’re going to find it’s a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to quality and even prices. Definitely research all your options before deciding Amazon is the way to go.
Many small herbal retailers have online shopping options, so do keep that in mind! It’s great to be able to buy high quality herbs online and support a small business. Pricing is often a bit higher with these businesses, but you are paying for quality and service.
Another online option is Mountain Rose Herbs. They are a well-known online herb retailer with usually good prices. You do have to pay shipping, but this can be worth it if you’re buying in bulk. Also, they’re a reputable herb supplier with a wide variety of products and a pretty great website with recipes and tons of information! Many herbalists promote / endorse MRH.
Finally, if you’re still overwhelmed, try to focus on starting small with a few versatile herbs that can be used in many combinations and ways. In retrospect, I’ve found that there are several herbs I’ve bought that I rarely use! If you begin with staples (think chamomile, mint, ginger, and others), you’ll be able to build a good foundation. (Stay tuned for a whole post on this soon!)
Are there any other herbal resources I’ve forgotten? Let me know in the comments!